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from the March 2015 issue

Fruit

This is an official report based on the firsthand accounts of interviewees A through Z. Each entry has been abstracted and the subjects’ names have been redacted. Various fruits appear in the report. Here, the term “various” is synonymous with “many kinds.” Examples are: apple; banana; blueberry; cherry; fig; grape; kiwi; lemon; lime; lychee; mango; melon; navel orange; papaya; peach; pear; pineapple; pomegranate; strawberry; sudachi; watermelon; and yuzu. In some cases, only the general area of production is known, but in most cases countries of production have been verified: Guam, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, etc. A more precise location, however, is listed for the Chinese peaches: “Grown in Shanghai.” Additionally, one variety of grapes is labeled “Caucasus,” indicating the Caucasus region. At the time the present document was committed to paper, there was no such country as the Caucasus. In the case of Japanese fruit, specific regions are often noted—from Chōshi-grown watermelons to produce from Aomori, Ōita, Tokushima, and so on. We have also confirmed that, for 90% of the Japanese fruit cataloged, the prefecture in which the fruit was grown can be identified. There are two points that remain unclear. First, did the fruit actually come from the countries (regions, prefectures) listed? Second, why isnt there even one mention of fruit being produced and consumed locally? We know that in each supermarket, convenience store, and deli inspected, fruit advertised as Tokyo-grown was in fact being sold. Most of these came from the Ogasawara Islands, Tama and Nerima—the last of which indicates the “ward of production.” It’s not impossible to grow fruit in Tokyo. In fact, one can even keep bees within the city (for more, please refer to the entry on beekeeping). Nonetheless, not a single piece of Tokyo-grown fruit was reported stolen from any of the supermarkets, convenience stores, or delis. Much about the fruit-theft phenomenon remains shrouded in mystery. Repeated attempts were made to find meaningful similarities among the accused thieves. We managed to rule out a number of possibilities. Blood type, for one. Most subjects were type A, but that type is rather common among the Japanese population. Eyesight was also unrelated, as was whether or not the subject wore contact lenses. Gender was also deemed irrelevant. The ratio of male to female subjects was perfectly balanced: 5:5. What remains unclear is whether age is important. Our investigation revealed an overwhelming concentration of twenty-one- and twenty-three-year-old subjects. The oldest subject, however, was sixty-eight at the time of arrest.

Discovering Fruit

Each subject spoke about the feeling the fruit gave them: “One of them stood out. The second I saw it, it just grabbed me.” This point was stressed by all of the alleged shoplifters. Testimonies emphasized factors such as aura, luster, or fragrance. Some spoke about light. One recalled, “The light coming off that papaya was totally different from the rest of the pile. I guess I was drawn to that.” Others mentioned the feel of the fruit. One, scouring the shelves of a certain deli, said: “I just knew—the lime felt somehow unlike the others.” It apparently took on the “feel” of a slightly overripe avocado. Concerning smell, three eerily similar remarks stand out. The first references “the body odor coming from the grapes”; the second mentions, “the banana was sweating… it had a sour, human smell to it”; the last abruptly states, “the apple smelled like my ex-boyfriend…” These comments lack any negative implication. In each statement, a feeling led the subject to discover the fruit. Displayed in supermarkets, convenience stores, and delis next to other fruit, purportedly of the same kind, this fruit was not a fruit. Or rather, it wasn’t only a fruit. It was magical—cursed. If you stared at the fruit’s rounded cheek for a moment, a mark would appear. The mark took the shape of a continent, but exactly which continent—and which countries it contains—remains unclear. Even if it were clear, it probably wouldn’t match the so-called place of production found on its label. At times, the fruit’s outline might strike its viewer as excessively clean or somehow noisy; its glow might seem overly canine. With time, the fruit’s skin might appear in double or triple… “I could feel the air vibrating.” Several subjects described the discovery process in this way. “So I just took it.” “I stole it,” etc.

The Secret Identity of Fruit

The “false” fruit remains silent. But, once exposed, it begins revealing its secret. The fruit is possessed by a deep-seated grudge. The subjects didn’t inspect the fruit closely; they only had to touch it. They could feel the sorrow with their fingertips. Every subject used the term “sadness” (or some variant thereof) at least once. We have also confirmed that the fruit writhes when squeezed firmly. One subject went on to say: “But that movement was only partial.” The following are some of the most important statements gathered early in our investigation. “When I held it up to my ear, I could hear a voice…” “There was deep emotion in there. It just kept groaning…” “I got the feeling that its flesh was linked to another world, somewhere…” Needless to say, the agency does not allow such phenomena to exist.

The Artificial Cultivation of Fruit

We took action—what might be described as “fruit-picking.” The agency discovered that far greater numbers of fruit had been hiding in the city than initially anticipated (multiple accounts mention them spreading or propagating). Collected specimens were subjected to the widest conceivable array of tests. Some of our findings can be found below: the fruit are real. They may be possessed, but they are not fakes (also described as copies or imitations). They’re alive (living things, plants). This was tested using every available method. We determined that they were made up of seed, pulp, and so on. So what happens when the seeds contained therein are sown? To find out, the agency decided to try its hand at growing fruit. We began, naturally, with trees. We had laboratories set up. Papayas, mangoes, and bananas were tested in greenhouses. They developed without complication. Each tree produced a luxuriant and vibrant display of greenish yellow. Size and shape were perfectly normal. The trees bore a second generation of fruit; they quickly grew accustomed to our world.

Insects Link the Fruit

During our attempts at artificial cultivation, we came to a certain realization: fruit are hiding not only in supermarkets, convenience stores, and delis, but in other places as well. They can grow, then, in trees planted in private gardens. They hang in persimmon trees, for example, pretending to be persimmons, or in mountain cherry trees, pretending to be mountain cherries. This realization (hypothesis or inference), however, seems to go against the data cited in the introduction (viz., none of the stolen fruit was locally produced and consumed). Thus we need to consider the role of bees. Beekeeping is possible even in downtown Tokyo—as “rooftop beekeeping.” Flora such as acacias and lotuses can act as sources of honey. Of course, honeybees aid in the pollination of plants. Bees link plants over great distances. We have confirmed that the insects mediating such pollination—and the fruition that results—had found their way clandestinely into our laboratories. They invaded the papaya, mango, and banana greenhouses. But if the fruit isn’t being locally produced and consumed, where are the insects taking the pollen? With the help of the Livestock Hygiene Department, the honeybee intruders were captured and subsequently identified. But the bees in question had no hive to return to. They didn’t belong to any of the registered rooftop beekeepers in the downtown area. So where is their home? They have to return someplace. And, wherever that is, there has to be fruit. At the same time, the agency was confounded by rumors that city oxygen levels were on the rise; making matters worse, some were convinced that the fruit’s presence was affecting the city’s temperature.

Fruit-eating

What happens when someone eats the fruit? A profoundly disturbing question. Naturally, the agency wasted no time carrying out the necessary experiments.

Case #1: We fed the subject a strawberry. His first remark was that it tasted “really sweet.” He then added: “You don’t even need condensed milk or anything. This is what I call a Toyonaka strawberry.” The fruit in question was in fact being sold as a Fukuoka-grown “Toyonaka” in a supermarket in Musashino City, Tokyo. As soon as the subject started to digest the fruit (the process was carefully timed), researchers observed a change in expression. The outline of the subject’s face started to double. It was also recorded that it looked like the subject was wearing a “mask of vibrating air.” Then the subject started to moan. Clearly it was the onset of an emotional outpouring. The subject spoke angrily about a particular individual. Following in-depth analysis, the existence of the individual mentioned was confirmed, but we found that the subject and this individuali.e., the person we had identified—shared no personal connection whatsoever. The vitriol erupting from the subject’s mouth was not his own, nor was it based on any memory of his. In other words, the subject was unquestionably possessed by a fruit that was itself possessed by hatred. The agency was forced to admit that the subject had been possessed. The fruit was a “cursed fruit”… a pseudo-memory. The memories were false and yet they were not. The subject’s delirium was brought under control eight hours and twenty-nine minutes after the experiment began.

Case #2: The subject was fed a grapefruit (apparently a ruby red, judging by the color of its pulp). Shortly thereafter, the subject began speaking in a language that was not Japanese. The agency brought in an interpreter who concluded that the language was Chinese—Fujian dialect, specifically. What came out of the subject’s mouth started as a love story (or so it seemed). Yet there was no mention of Fujian province, Hainan Island, or even Taiwan in the story. The tragic memory—which did not belong to the subject—is set in Tokyo. It’s rooted in Tokyo. We carried out numerous other experiments to learn everything we could. For example: Does possession vary according to the type of fruit consumed? What determines the gender of the memory being spoken? The most crucial statements were collected in the following cross-examination: “Who are you?” “I’m me.” (Note: While the subject speaking was male, his voice was distinctly feminine.) “How old was that memory?” “Now is now.” (We found that fruit cannot speak of the distant past or future. It can, however, go back a couple of decades.) “Where did that happen?” “Another Tokyo.’

The Forest

Through testing, we learned that the fruit has no brainwaves. We were quickly running out of ideas, but we simply couldn’t tolerate rogue fruit infiltrating Tokyo and corrupting public morals. It threatened everything the agency stood for. But the fruit was ultimately too fruitlike. Left with no other options, the agency decided to attach transmitters to the honeybees, our so-called “greenhouse invaders,” to move into the investigation’s final phase. (Officially, we cannot disclose the cost of developing the tracking technology within this report.) Where do the honeybees go? All statements contained within this entry belong to agency investigators: “They go into the forest.” “We have records. We know they went into the forest.” “But the forest vanishes.” “The trains stop running, and when they start back up, the forest is gone—it’s already gone.” “We weren’t dreaming.” “We followed them.” “There were wild pigs in the forest. ‘Oink, oink.’ You know—wild pigs… boars?” “We thought: so theres a Tokyo out there with a forest, one with a distinctive ecosystem, and that forest goes somewhere.” Each investigator noted that, looking up from the forest, they could make out a cluster of illuminated skyscrapers that could have been Shinjuku or Shibuya; a secondary or tertiary forest, doubling or tripling the world’s outline.

Case Study: Female, twenty-three.

So it went like this.

I ordered fruit at a Denny’s.

Not sliced or anything, a whole orange.

That kind of thing—food?—isn’t on the menu. Obviously. They had a bunch of them in this huge basket by the front counter. I guess that makes it look more organic or something. I picked one up. An orange. It was way softer than I thought it would be. Really soft. It was shocking. I put it up to my nose and sniffed.

It smells like you.

That’s what I thought.

The fruit. You know—the orange?

It looked like it was about to burst out of its skin.

I could tell it was really juicy inside.

It was big.

I put it up to my eye and everything was magnified, all its marks and stuff. What are those called?

It was bumpy.

It reminded me a lot of your nipple.

Or, like, the part around the nipple?

You know where I mean?

There.

This is it, I thought. So, like I was saying, I ordered it. They can bring it to you just like that, or slice it, or make juice out of it. I had them juice it.

Yeah, orange juice.

So I handed them the orange I’d been holding in my palm. I gave it to the cashier.

I don’t remember anything about that person.

I don’t remember anyone but you.

I don’t remember.

Hey, did you know I don’t eat enough?

Hey, did you know I always follow my instincts—and they’re usually dead on?

I was right about you, you know?

I was sitting in the smoking section.

Waiting for my orange juice to come.

I started flipping randomly through the menu.

I think I ordered something. Other than the juice. But I forget. I can’t remember. I remember it was raining. That’s why I went inside in the first place. It wasn’t raining hard. But raindrops were hitting against the window pane. It was going pitter-patter, pitter-patter. That was like your nipple, too. Or, like, the part around it.

So I had this vision.

In me.

In my head.

I saw your tattoo and my tattoo. No, wait, it was just yours. First—in the beginning—it was your boob. The left one. The clock tat on your tit.

You know what I mean. The dial.

Just the numbers.

One through twelve. A tiny tattoo with those numbers arranged in a circle, and a frame.

Then I had another vision.

My tat.

On my tit.

The tattoo of clock hands on my right boob. Two hands. One long and one short.

They’re angled. I place mine against yours. We get naked and lie down. When we lie down, your left tit and my right tit come together. They squish together. When they press together like that, our tattoos become one. Time is born. The clock tells the time.

It’s four-fourteen, on the dot.

That’s where the long and short hands fall.

Past the four and before the three.

We can’t see it because we’re pressed tightly together, but we know it’s there. When we hold each other, when we love each other, when we’re glued together, it’s four-fourteen.

Your tit.

My tit.

Four-fourteen. 4:14. It’s symmetrical.

That’s symmetry, right?

It starts with a four on the left. Then a one in the middle. And if you read it from the right, it still starts with a four.

Is it afternoon? Morning?

Four-fourteen.

Night?

I remembered the fruit. You know—the orange.

That was how I came back to reality.

The waiter was coming. To my table. He put the orange juice in front of me.

It was juice now. The orange I picked up and knew, This is it. That one.

When you juice something, does that mean it isn’t natural anymore?

I wonder.

What if it’s pure juice?

Well, they did something to it. To my orange.

I drank it.

I didn’t bother using the straw.

It was good.

Then—what?

There’s no deep meaning. No meaning at all. Just tons of words in my head. Hey…

Why did you leave me?

Why didn’t you come back?

Are you into guys?

Are you seriously bi? Or were you just fucking around? Like, “Let’s play lesbian.” Or, like, “I guess I’ll give it a shot,” or whatever.

Is he famous?

Does he have a really cool job?

Can you brag about his really cool job?

Am I—are we—no good because you can’t tell people about us?

No, I get it.

I really do. He is famous. He’s a goddamn brand name. If you have him you can brag about it.

If you own him.

I get it.

I did some research. I looked him up.

Calling and saying nothing. Tailing. Swiping his bag and looking through his stuff.

I wanted to be more threatening. Calling and saying nothing—like that.

After ten or so calls, I’d say just one thing.

Hoping to make him crazy.

Hoping he’d die.

To hell with him.

I had a funny feeling about it from the start.

I could feel it. And—guess what—I was right.

I knew you would.

Be stolen away from me.

By him.

I knew you’d move out.

Men can go to hell.

All of them can fucking die.

It tastes so good.

Orange.

Juice.

Tastes so good. God, I feel like I could shout. “Die!” To every last man in this restaurant. Like I could spit on all of them. Even the staff.

Fucking men.

They don’t even have decent tits.

You know?

Tits are important.

Tits are necessary.

Tits bounce.

They’re like fruit—round, full and, like, succulent? I’m rubbing my own right now. The right one. Here and now. Then I can tell men to die—to vanish from the face of the fucking earth. I’m a princess; we’re princesses. And we’ve been ordered to annihilate the House of Man. That decree reads: kill, kill—kill ‘em all.

Ow…

I’m hurting myself.

I’m hurt.

I want magic. Black magic.

So, I’m twenty-three.

Twenty-three.

And you’re twenty-three. And Tokyo is, what, twenty? Memories from before then belong to a vanished world. So then what happens? Rebirth? Have I already left my body? I know, right? I’m so full of it.

I guess I’m pretty full of myself.

Totally. But that’s my only reality.

Look.

It tastes good.

So good.

The glass is really light. I drink it up. The orange.

That orange.

Outside?

It’s sprinkling.

The rain’s pretty much stopped.

So I decided to go. To leave the restaurant, to get away. Right then. I paid at the register. Well, I think I did. I’m pretty sure. No, I don’t remember. Yeah, it hurts. Right behind my ear. It's throbbing, pulsating. It's the orange. I bet my blood is orange-colored now. The pain is getting worse. In my boob. In my tit. I think it’s gonna come out. Like mother’s milk. It’ll come gushing out if I squeeze it.

Orange. My juice with the orange in it.

Juice. Half made up of my blood.

That’s why it tastes like iron. Then like orange.

I can smell it.

Bloody orange.

What the hell? It’s not raining.

Not even drizzling.

So.

I heard wings, flapping.

Insects’ wings. And they were going: buzz-buzz, buzz-buzz.

Flying.

Where?

I want to give honey.

Honey from my tit. Juice.

To the insects.

Suck. Come on and suck.

Buzz-buzz.

Do I have to follow them?

I guess.

”Come,” they say.

But where to?

Here?

Plants… everywhere. Forest? Yeah. It’s a forest. Is this the place I was looking for? No. What I was looking for isn’t here or there. It’s when… A time. I wanted four-fourteen. Uh-huh—4:14, forward or backward. Now I know, it’s night. A spider-web! So there are spiders here. A path. And some undergrowth. Rustling. Monkeys… Monkeys? In the treetops? They must be sleeping.

Dreaming.

And birds?

Maybe.

Look! A beetle!

It flew away.

Then . . .

I found a well.

A well in the forest.

Someone’s here.

They have to be.

Maybe they live here.

But this place isn’t my goal.

If it isn’t . . .

Ow, my tit hurts.

It hurts bad.

The juice is coming out.

I made it through the forest. Out the other side. Then I thought. What the hell? So this is Tokyo, too. It could be good here. I should live here. It may be the other side of the world, but it’s good for me. Really good. See?

Are you listening?

Can you hear me?

But—who are you?

I’m possessing somebody?

My mouth vibrates when I talk?

Well . . .

Listen up. I’m issuing a warning. Take heed. Don’t cut my words up. No chopping. No slicing. Don’t do anything. This is a statement, right? I'm possessing somebody, right? Then leave my words alone. You can’t process them. That's how fruit works. Fruit is fruit because you can eat it straight. Because you don’t have to do anything to it.

Go on. Take a sip.

Of my juice.

Here, I’ll help. It’s just like milking.

See, it tastes good.

Right?

Hey.

I think

I’m going

to hate you

and that

scares

me.

© Hideo Furukawa. By arrangement with the author. Translation ©  2015 by David Boyd. All rights reserved.

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